Break down barriers to learning.

Diminish the artificial distinctions between general educators and special educators in this comprehensive program that will allow you to earn a dual master’s degree in Literacy and Special Education.


Ideal for students already certified in elementary or childhood education, our master’s in Special Education/master’s in Literacy Education will prepare you to work with students with reading difficulties and disabilities. It will also prepare you to work as a consultant teacher, working with students with disabilities in a regular classroom environment.

Program Distinctions

This education master’s program allows you to be certified in two areas — literacy and special education — in less time than it would take to pursue the certifications individually. You’ll be more marketable and more prepared to teach every type of student in your classroom, from at-risk students struggling with reading and writing to students with behavioral issues and barriers to learning. As a support system to general education teachers, you’ll also be valuable.

This program, part of the Esteves School of Education, is accredited by the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP).

Literacy Specialist

Literacy specialists teach reading and writing to at-risk learners within the classroom or in pull-out programs, conducting assessments to determine specific needs of learners and document progress. They also provide support for other educators on best practices, interpreting data, differentiating instruction within the classroom and more.

Special Educator

Special educators teach students (grades 1-6) with a wide range of challenges and barriers related to their education. Special educators are prepared to teach across the special education continuum.


The small size of this program allows for faculty to work closely with each student. Faculty have extensive experience teaching general and special education students and are employed as special educators and/or administrators with diverse ranges of experiences.

“Russell Sage College and the Esteves School of Education act as leaders in education not just in the Capital District, but in New York State.”

Peter Stapleton, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Education
Spotlights Pattern

Your Future

After you earn your master’s degree and pass the Content Specialty Tests (CST) for literacy and special education, you’ll be certified in both areas.

Student Teaching

For the literacy component, you’ll complete a practicum of at least 25 hours — which involves teaching at-risk, diverse, urban learners online and face-to-face.

For the special education component, you’ll work closely with faculty to identify student-teaching placements that will increase the breadth of your teaching experience. Most placements are 50-hours long across a period of five weeks.


Graduates go on to have careers as special educators and literacy specialists, working with general education teachers and a wide range of students. You’ll be able to co-teach with general education teachers, be a consultant teacher who provides support services or be able to teach in a self-contained capacity with a small number of special education students.

Add another vital education skill to your toolbox with our dual Literacy and Special Education master’s degree program. You’ll become more marketable, and increase your effectiveness in the classroom.

Learning Experience

You’ll have the chance to participate in practical experiences while studying a theoretical research background in this program. The program also includes many guest speakers from the Capital District — teachers, directors, principals and related service providers — so you can learn from the best in the field.

You’ll also learn to promote practices that emphasize evidence-based teaching, differentiated instruction, diversity and inclusion, teaching English language learners and teacher reflection. Courses draw on the new literacies lens to integrate technology into innovative and traditional learning activities.

Application Requirements

  • official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended
  • one letter of recommendation
  • 1-2 page career goals essay
  • GRE is not require

Deadline: Rolling Admission
Start Date: Fall, Spring, Summer semester

Course Objectives

To develop Literacy Specialists and Special Educators who:

  • evaluate, diagnose, interpret and teach students with significant difficulties in reading, writing, management and other areas that present as barriers to learners’ success
  • are prepared to work closely with diverse families and other educators to provide targeted, excellent literacy instruction
  • provide ongoing professional development to other educators and parents
  • use data (including individual, classroom and school-wide data) to inform instructional decisions
  • are highly effective in collaborating with others

Next steps?

It’s time to take the next step. Choose yours below.

Have questions?

Office Coordinator: Esteves School of Education, Administrative Assistant: Professional Education Programs, and Teacher Certification Officer
Assistant Professor of Special Education and Physical Education